DWC's Glacier Country Business Support Fund
“While we welcome the opening of the trans-Tasman bubble and Minister Nash’s recent announcement of a tourism recovery package, Glacier Country remains one of the hardest hit areas in New Zealand, with many businesses desperately short of cashflow,” DWC chief executive Heath Milne said.
Department of Conservation’s Summer 2020/21 visitor insights report revealed visitor numbers to Franz Josef were down 72% over the summer period. According to electronic card transaction data from MarketView, spending in Franz Josef fell by 60 percent for the year to March 2021.
In response to the crisis, DWC established the Glacier Country Business Support Fund (GCBSF). The package included offering eligible businesses a maximum of $50,000 through cashflow support.
“The funding is structured to support and retain employment in the Glacier Country area – remembering that the overall objective is to maintain the viability of the community as a whole, not to give grants to individuals,” Mr Milne said.
“Under the fund businesses are incentivised to get back to 80% of pre-COVID employment levels after the international borders reopen. We are also working directly with tourism businesses to attract more visitors to the area and help them adapt to focus on domestic visitors in the short term.”
Mr Milne said additional resource has been allocated to administer the applications to speed up the distribution process while ensuring compliance with regulations.
“As a result, funds have already been transferred to a number of businesses. The team is working hard with individual applicants to get all required info as quickly as possible. As each application gets completed and approved, we are making the payments on the same day where possible.”
Mr Milne said DWC received almost 50 expressions of interest and in turn 40 full applications for support through the GCBSF.
“We are now reassessing the situation to see what the impact has been as well as how Minister Nash’s recovery plan can help. This will include going back to the community for their input.”
“The new government package will be considered and DWC will work with Glacier Country businesses to access this support. We should also acknowledge the great work being done through the Kaimahi for Nature South Westland initiative which has to date helped 40 businesses retain over 100 staff.”